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US House speaker prioritizes border security over Ukraine funding

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-02-28 05:36

US House Speaker Mike Johnson walks towards microphones to make a statement to members of the news media after meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington, US on Feb 27. [Photo/Agencies]

WASHINGTON -- US House Speaker Mike Johnson met with President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday, after which he said he still considered strengthening border security a more urgent priority than aiding Ukraine in its conflict with Russia.

"Let me say this: When I showed up today, my purpose was to express what I believe is the obvious truth, and that is that we must take care of America's needs, first. When you talk about Americans' needs, you have to talk first about our open border," Johnson said in remarks to the press at the White House as he emerged from a meeting with Biden.

He also told reporters that he met with the president one-on-one after a group meeting also participated by other leaders of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

"So I brought that issue up repeatedly today in that room," Johnson said of the need to address border security. "And again, one on one with the President. I think that's our responsibility to bring that up."

The speaker has been withholding a vote in his chamber on a Senate-passed 95-billion-US-dollar foreign aid package, the bulk of which will go to Ukraine to help the country sustain its fighting against Russia.

"And Ukraine, I think the need is urgent," Biden said in remarks delivered before his meeting with Johnson, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries.

"I think the consequences of inaction every day in Ukraine are dire," Biden said, urging Congress to approve the supplemental budget request from his administration that included some 60 billion dollars in assistance for Ukraine.

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